After dropping two games against a last-place Kutztown University team on Saturday, the Shippensburg University softball team found itself clinging to the third and final Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) playoff spot in the East Division.
The Raiders (19-15, 6-6 PSAC East) rebounded on Sunday by saving their best for last in the final game of a doubleheader against the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown (UPJ), grabbing a 5–3 home-win over the Mountain Cats at Robb Field.
SU’s offense received a boost from the table setters of the lineup, as well as Anna Warfield in the nine spot, as Warfield, Tara Bicko and Kayla Bonawitz reached base 12 times on Sunday. It was a special day for Warfield who finished 3-for-4 with an RBI, two walks and two runs scored. Bicko went 4-for-8 with a double and two RBIs, while Bonawitz was 3-for-7 with two doubles, an RBI and a stolen base.
The Raiders used a big second inning to grab an early 4-0 lead in Game 2, on RBI doubles by Tara Bicko and Kayla Bonawitz, while scoring two more runs on RBI singles by Anna Warfield and Katie Wise. The Raiders added their fifth run in the fourth inning on a wild pitch by UPJ’s Ashley Pagliei. Courtney Coy and Wise added two hits for SU in the win.
Chloe Collins was solid on the mound for the Raiders in Game 2, throwing a complete game while allowing just eight hits and striking out four batters. Collins’ held on in the final inning after UPJ finally got to her, picking up four of its hits in the final frame, but the Mountain Cats failed to score after a two-run double by UPJ’s Jade Stubblefield to left-center field brought UPJ within two runs.
SU received a strong pitching performance in Game 1 from Taryn Wilson, but the Raiders were unable to get the victory after the Mountain Cats received a game-winning two-run double from catcher Stacey Walling in the fifth inning to push across the winning run in a 2-1 loss for the Raiders.
Wilson struck out nine batters in the contest and kept SU in the game throughout its duration. SU did not go away quietly in the game, putting two runners on base with one out. Warfield singled to load the bases with and put the winning-run into scoring position, but a hard lineout by Bicko resulted in a double play to end the game.
It has been a particularly strong season for Wilson, who leads the conference in strikeouts with 155, including 42 batters struck out looking, while also sitting in second place in the conference with 14 wins on the mound.
Bonawitz has had a career year at the plate for the Raiders, as she is fourth in the PSAC in batting average and hits, with a .436 average and 48 hits in 110 at-bats this season for SU.
SU currently sits in third place in the East Division, with a three-game lead over fourth-place East Stroudsburg University for the fourth and final PSAC playoff spot. The Raiders have two doubleheaders left on their regular-season schedule against Millersville and East Stroudsburg. Millersville currently sits two games ahead of SU in the standings, before the teams begin a critical doubleheader for seeding in the 2018 PSAC tournament.
The Raiders will return to action on Friday, April 27 at Robb Field against Millersville University. The doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.